Sunday morning first thing - thoughts

Well, the first thing I woke up to today was a rejection for my weird novella from small press Publisher Shock Totem. Not the nicest of ways to start a Sunday but I'm not going to let it stop me writing or submitting elsewhere. Will spend some time later looking at small presses.

We had our family gathering TV/Film night last night so I'm going to bombard you with a few thoughts. First off was last week's episode of Doctor Who, Sleep No More. Well first of all let me use the word WOW. Wow as in I don't think I've ever seen a premise for a Doctor Who story that was anything approaching that bad. I'm sorry for all involved but that was the first time ever I have switched off an episode of Doctor Who before the end titles rolled.

This week's episode, Face the Raven, I thought was excellent. It felt a little Neil Gaiman like with the hidden street in the heart of London - reminded me of Neverwhere, which although flawed had a wonderful premise. And Jenna Coleman was superb in it.

The episode is easily the standout of the series so far, which isn't saying all that much. This has been a fairly ropey set of shows and I think partly the fault of too many two-parters. Not that I have anything against two parters or arc stories. It's just they have been good throughout.

The opening pair of episodes should have everything to make it a great story; Daleks, Davros, and Missy. But it's story was just a little weak for me. It would probably have been too much for a single episode but not quite enough plot for a double.

The second two parter (Under the Lake/Before the Flood) was better. The ghosts were actually quite creepy and the cliffhanger well done. The Doctor even got out of it in a proper Doctor Who way so we didn't feel cheated.

Cue two parter number three - really would have been good breaking this up with a standalone. Now the Maisie Williams starring episodes were actually pretty good. My only problem was nothing so far in the series had made me go wow (for the right reasons) and this still didn't. A lot of it felt more of a set up for later than actual story.

And onto two parter number four - Revenge of the Xygons (or whatever) Now I am always happy yo see Osgood back. I think the Doctor Who groupie in UNIT is a great idea and the actress looks just geeky enough to carry it off. But again I found the story just not quite enough to sustain two episodes. At least this time the second half was the better of the two so you got an ending that was pretty satisfying.

And then it was onto episode 9 - a standalone at last. Unfortunately the terrible one mentioned above.

We have just two more left this season (apart from the obligatory Christmas special). I just hope that the season ends well. I have a horrible feeling about the shows future. Anyway - we did watch other things so onto them.

The first of them was the latest Blacklist, Arioch Cain. I like this show. I like all the intrigue and conspiracy and seemingly endless resources that Reddington can command. But it's James Spader that makes this such a hit. He plays the part so wonderfully; swapping between bon vivant to psychopath to principled man in a heartbeat. Episode as good as ever.

Then it was the return of Danish/Swedish crime drama the Bridge. The first two episodes of season three aired last night on BBC. I really enjoy the ways that Scandinavians film these shows. It's so much different to UK/US crime dramas. Somehow the reality is somewhat starker and harsher and I like that.

This season I had some initial fears over. After all without the character of Martin to support her, how would Saga cope? Saga has to be one of the weirdest characters in a TV cops show - and if you include shows like Monk that's going some.

The good news is Saga isn't coping all that well with Martin's absence which is a really good touch. It would have been all too easy for her to just shut it off and go back to being what she was when they first met. She hasn't. She's struggling and it makes it more interesting. The story has started quite well too. We've had just enough of the case and the subplots to hook me back in again.

This might be why I like Scandinavian shows so much. UK/US cop shows always seem to be episodic. The story gets wrapped up by the end credits of the episode ready for another the next week. It leads to jokey comments about shows like Midsommer Murders - how can their be so many killers in such a small town? Why don't people just leave?

In these Nordic Noirs, a season focusses on just one case. The Killing did it over 20 episodes in season 1, but generally it's just 10. It's a far more satisfying format than killer of the week.

The two episodes were, BTW, thoroughly satisfying and I can't wait for next weekend.

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